On Anglicisms

Avoiding Béarlachas, unwanted English influence on Irish, is an important and big thing among learners, and it is not always easy to say which Anglicism is acceptable and which isn’t. Myself, I try to distinguish well-established Anglicisms from more recent ones, and Gaeltacht anglicisms from learners’ mistakes. On the other hand, it should be noted that Gaeltacht anglicisms come and go, and – iontas na n-iontas, wonder of wonders – it is not at all unheard of that a classical writer whose books and stories we are asked to look upon as something to cherish and imitate uses anglicisms that have gone out of use. An example I can think of is Seán Bán Mac Meanman, whose Irish is delightfully rich Ulster Irish, but who makes use of the expression iompar amach for translating the abstract sense of the English expression to carry out. In today’s Irish, this would never occur to any even moderately fluent speaker, because the more Gaelic expressions comhlíonadh and cur i gcrích are all over the place.

When asked to define unacceptable Anglicisms, I would suggest above all syntactic features:

  • using forms of tá where only is is appropriate;
  • using prepositions in a way modelled on English;
  • using articles where they are not appropriate: in English we might say the president of this country, but in Irish it is Uachtarán na tíre seo, and it would be out and out wrong to add an article before the first noun
  • translating word for word from English wherever there are more Irish expressions.

I am less preoccupied with English loanwords that are well adapted to the Irish system of declensions and conjugations. Sometimes people suggest that I shouldn’t use English words such as músaem, and prefer iarsmalann instead. Myself, I happily use both. It is good to use an international word which fits neatly in, such as músaem, and it is similarly good to use a word using an Irish derivative suffix, such as iarsmalann. Similarly, I am happy to use teileafón, fón, and guthán interchangeably, although the fact that fón isn’t quite assimilated to the Irish initial mutation system does make me somewhat wary about it. (Incidentally, I picked up guthán from an Ulster native speaker, so don’t tell me native speakers don’t use guthán and similar terms.)

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From the Confessions of a Grammar Nazi – Admhálacha ó Shaoithín Gramadaí

I have often been called a grammar Nazi as far as the Irish language is concerned, and I am quite happy to plead guilty. In my position, you would be one, too. Here is why.

Is minic a chuirtear i mo leith gur saoithín gramadaí mise. Tá mé breá sásta a admháil, iad siúd a deir mar sin, go bhfuil an ceart acu. Dá mbeifeá i m’áit, níor thaise duitse é. Seo fios fátha agus siocair.

The whole idea of a “grammar Nazi” comes from the English-speaking world, where it makes much more sense than in the world of small, threatened languages. Much of what is traditionally considered “good grammar” in English is based on Latin, but Latin and English are different languages, even representing different branches of the Indo-European genealogical tree. So it is completely lunatic to suggest that, say, you “should not split an infinitive”. If infinitives are split in spoken language, and if they were part of the written language before Latin-influenced grammarians gained the upper hand, then it makes no sense to not split them (ha!). Instead of basing the normative grammar on Latin, it should be, as far as possible, be based on natural spoken language, as well as established literary tradition.

An coincheap sin, saoithín gramadaí nó grammar Nazi mar a deir an Béarla, tháinig sé as saol an Bhéarla, agus cé go bhfuil sé oiriúnach don Bhéarla, ní luíonn sé le réasún i gcoimhthéacs na dteangacha neamhfhorleathana atá faoi bhagairt. Tá cuid mhór dá bhfuil meas na dea-ghramadaí air sa Bhéarla bunaithe ar an Laidin, ach is dhá theanga dhifriúla iad an Laidin agus an Béarla, agus níl siad fiú ar aon chraobh le chéile i gcrann ginealais na hInd-Eorpaise. Mar sin tá sé aiféiseach ar fad a rá, mar shampla, “nach bhfuil sé ceart infinideach a scoilt” sa Bhéarla. Más gnách infinidigh a scoilt i gcaint na ndaoine, agus má bhí an t-infinideach scoilte coitianta sa teanga scríofa sula bhfuair lucht na Laidine seilbh ar an gcaighdeánú, níl sé ciallmhar an t-infinideach scoilte a sheachaint. Ba chóir caighdeán na gramadaí a bhunú ar chaint na ndaoine agus ar thraidisiún seanbhunaithe na litríochta seachas ar an Laidin.

Now we come to the interesting part. The prescribed Irish grammar and style is based on the language of the last monolingual speakers. It was not some book language regulated by village schoolmasters thinking too much of themselves. It was the language of the people. The language of such luminaries as Séamus Ó Grianna and Peig Sayers is not revered because it is some Latinizing schoolmaster’s idea of good Irish. It is revered and imitated because it is the authentic language of the Gaeltacht and the nearest thing to an established literary tradition you could find among illiterate native speakers: the language of the oral literature of the story-tellers and tradition-keepers.

Seo an chuid is mó spéis den scéal anois. Tá an leagan saintreorach den Ghaeilge bunaithe ar chleachtais na gcainteoirí deireanacha aonteangacha. Níorbh iad na mionmháistrí scoile a bhí ag síleadh an domhain díobh féin a chum ná a cheap é. Ba é caint na ndaoine é. Má thugaimid urraim do theanga Shéamuis Uí Ghrianna agus Pheig Sayers, is é is cúis leis sin nach bhfuil an teanga sin bunaithe ar thuiscint mháistir scoile na Laidine ar an rud is dea-Ghaeilge ann. Bímid ag iarraidh aithris a dhéanamh ar an teanga sin toisc gurb í fíortheanga na sean-Ghaeltachta í agus í bunaithe ar an rud is cosúla le traidisiún liteartha seanbhunaithe i gcultúr na gcainteoirí dúchais nach bhfuil léamh ná scríobh a dteanga féin acu: teanga na béal-litríochta, is é sin teanga na scéalaithe is na seanchaithe. 

Those who do not speak Irish natively, such as yours truly, are advised to learn their language from native speakers, including the tradition-keepers and storytellers whose stories are available in book form, as well as native speakers who wrote books, such as Séamus Ó Grianna, Seosamh Mac Grianna, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, and the writers of Gaeltacht autobiographies, of whom Peig is only one.

Sinne, nach bhfuil Gaeilge ó dhúchas againn, caithfidh muid Gaeilge a fhoghlaim ó chainteoirí dúchais – na scéalaithe is na seanchaithe san áireamh a bhfuil a gcuid scéalta ar fáil faoi chlúdach leabhair, chomh maith le cainteoirí dúchais ar tháinig leabhair óna bpeann, cosúil le Séamus Ó Grianna, Seosamh Mac Grianna, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, agus údair na ndírbheathaisnéisí Gaeltachta, nach bhfuil i bPeig ach bean acu.

Stupid jokes about Peig should be refrained from, because there is a strong rationale behind teaching Peig: she is one of the authentic voices of the Gaeltacht, as a native traditional storyteller, and as such, one of the authentic voices of pre-Anglicization Ireland. If there is anything wrong about Peig, it is the overreliance on Peig; instead, you should read all the native material there is, both autobiographies, folklore, and fiction.

Ba chóir stad de bheith ag insint drochscéilíní magaidh faoi Pheig, nó ní chuirfí Peig os comhair na bhfoghlaimeoirí ach cúis mhaith a bheith leis: guth údarásúil de chuid na Gaeltachta í, ós scéalaí dúchasach traidisiúnta í, agus mar sin, guth údarásúil de chuid na hÉireann réamh-Ghalldachais í. Ní bhfaighinn locht ar bith ar Pheig ach an meas a bheith uirthi gurb ionann ise agus traidisiún na Gaeltachta go léir; ina ionad sin ba chóir duit gach cineál ábhar dúchasach ón nGaeltacht a léamh, na dírbheathaisnéisí, an béaloideas agus an ficsean san áireamh.

Some less obvious Irish place-names

Usually, Irish place names have just been adapted to English spelling, or translated. However, there are many that aren’t so obvious. Here are some examples:

Arklow – an tInbhear Mór, gen. an Inbhir Mhóir. This place-name is one of the relatively few occurrences of inbhear “river mouth” in Ireland (béal is more common). As everybody knows, Inver-this and Inver-that is typically Scottish, though.

Brookeborough – Achadh Lon. The Brooke family was granted the ownership of the village during the Ulster Plantations. Achadh Lon is what the place was called before. It means the same as Kosovo Polje, i.e. the field of blackbirds.

Carrick-on-Shannon – Cora Droma Rúisc. People often attempt to translate the English name back into Irish. as something like “an Charraig chois Sionann”. However, that is not the historical name of the place.

Dublin – Baile Átha Cliath (usually pronounced as “B’leá Cliath”), or in more literary language Áth Cliath (gen. Átha Cliath). The usual explanation is, that there were two towns to start with, Duibhlinn the harbour, and Baile Átha Cliath, which was the part further away from the sea. Thus, the English who came in from the sea called the place by the name of the old harbour, and the Irish-speakers who approached it from the interior called it Baile Átha Cliath.

Milltown Malbay – Sráid na Cathrach. This is a small place in Clare, near Spanishpoint (which is Rinn na Spáinneach in Irish, if you were curious). Milltown Malbay has been called Poll an Mhuilinn or Baile an Mhuilinn in Irish too.

 

What does “Celtic” mean?

For a linguist – a student of language in general, or certain languages – the word “Celtic” means only one thing: Celtic languages. Celtic languages are a well-defined subgroup of Indo-European languages, which are a group of mutually related languages spoken in Europe, northern India, and some countries between Europe and India such as Iran and Afghanistan. Yes, the main languages of Iran and Afghanistan are indeed Indo-European and as such related to both Irish and English.

When we speak of “Celts”, we mean the people, or peoples, who speak, or historically spoke, Celtic languages. Modern Celtic languages include Irish, Scots Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Breton, and Cornish. Ancient Celtic languages include Gaulish, Celtiberian, and Lepontic, but these are basically just shorthand expressions for groups of ancient inscriptions which share similar features. We don’t have enough Gaulish to, say, write a history of Gaulish literature.

The idea that Celtic languages are somehow intrinsically enigmatic or mysterious should not be entertained. For instance, those Gaulish inscriptions are largely possible to understand and interpret, because they are written in a language that is related to other Indo-European languages – and no group of languages has been so thoroughly studied and mapped as that one. Of course, we can never understand everything, because we know little of the cultural context, but this applies to all ancient languages. Even Latin, which you might think should be intelligible in its entirety, given the fact that it is a classical language that has been studied for centuries, has its own share of enigmas: there are extant texts (such as the Carmen Saliare fragments) in a form of Latin which is much older than the language of Cicero and Virgil and which aren’t well understood.

As regards modern Celtic languages, they are quite well understood and can be learnt and studied by everyone. Irish, Scots Gaelic, Welsh, and Breton are all living languages, while their long-term survival might be precarious. Of the above-mentioned languages, I only speak and write Irish, so I might as well concentrate upon it. Books are still being written and published in Irish, both by native speakers and learners (myself included). There is such an awful lot of published folklore in Irish that if the language lost its last native speaker, it could still be resurrected with all its dialect differences.

Note this:

  • Basque is not a Celtic language, it is a language isolate with no relatives. There are a couple of possibly Celtic loanwords in Basque though.
  • Galician is not a Celtic language, it is a Romance language related to Portuguese. Many Romance languages have Celtic loanwords and show Celtic influence, but all Romance languages have basically developed from Latin.
  • Gaelic is not one language, but three (Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx) which are mutually about as similar as Scandinavian languages are.
  • Welsh is not a Gaelic language, although it is a Celtic language.
  • “Celtic” as a term is above all about linguistics, about the way how certain languages are related to each other. The cultures of the peoples who speak, or until recently spoke, Celtic languages are not necessarily particularly related to each other, any more than English culture is related to Swedish culture although English and Swedish are, as Germanic languages, originally quite closely related.
  • There is no one Celtic mythology, although there are Celtic mythologies. For instance, the Irish mythologies of Fiannaíocht (the cycle of the Fianna or Fenian heroes) and Rúraíocht (the Ulster Cycle with Cú Chulainn).
  • Celtic mythologies have significantly influenced common European culture. Above all, it should be noted that the stories about King Arthur and the knights of the round table are ultimately based on Welsh mythology, although the present form of the stories is probably more related to how the stories were rewritten and reinvented by medieval French poets. For instance, Sir Lancelot as a character was introduced by the very influential French writer Chrétien de Troyes.
  • The “Ossianic mythology” introduced by James Macpherson in the 18th century similarly had a deep impact on European culture by creating interest in the culture and folklore of the common people. Macpherson’s stories were actually relatively poor retellings of Fenian myths in English, but Macpherson did have an idea of Gaelic myths as told in Scots Gaelic.
  • And now it should be noted that Irish and Scots Gaelic myths are indeed related, but only because the languages themselves are closely related and diverged only relatively recently.
  • Things said in a Celtic language are not always profound and elevated. You can definitely speak about prostitution, defecating or sewage treatment in Irish. Shit, by the way, is cac in Irish, and piss is mún or fual. In case you were curious.
  • The fact that speakers of Irish or Welsh, for instance, use English words while speaking their languages is not due to the language being intrinsically old-fashioned or unsuitable to modern life. It is due to the fact that those people live in a largely English-speaking country, where the majority language is encroaching on the minority language. This is about power and prestige, not about the intrinsic nature of the language.
  • Welsh is most closely related to Breton and Cornish, Irish is most closely related to Scots Gaelic and Manx. But Welsh is so unintelligible to an Irish-speaker, and the other way round, that the common Celtic origins of the two languages do not help them understand each other.
  • On the other hand, Irish and Scots Gaelic are very similar both in their written and in their spoken forms. The main reason why they do not feel like the same language anymore is that those dialects which were in between have disappeared.
  • In fact, most native speakers of Scots Gaelic nowadays live in the Outer Hebrides, where the local dialect has been subject to exceptionally strong Old Norse influences. Thus, you can say that the most widely spoken form of Scots Gaelic today is the historically most divergent one.
  • Breton is not immediately related to Gaulish, it is rather a derivative of Cornish, which has come into being due to (originally seasonal) migration from Cornwall. So, although Breton is spoken in France, it originally was the same language as Cornish and came from the British Isles.
  • Welsh is closely related to both Cornish and Breton.
  • Cornish died out in the 18th century as a community language. There are, though, ongoing attempts to revive it as a spoken language. While some success has been achieved, there still is a lot of disagreement about what kind of Cornish should be revived and whether Welsh and Breton words should be used for concepts for which authentic Cornish only uses English borrowings.

SOME TERMINOLOGY, NAMES AND STUFF:

  • Basque = a non-Celtic minority language spoken in France and Spain. Sometimes people erroneously think that Basque is a Celtic language, because it is a minority language of which they know very little, and in such a way similar to Celtic languages. Actually. Basque is a linguistic isolate with no modern relatives (there was an ancient language called by linguists Aquitanian, but the list of known Aquitanian words is very short and so obviously Basque that for all we know Aquitanian might simply have been old Basque, not just a “related language”)
  • Béaslaí, Piaras (1891-1965) = an Irish-language writer and nationalist activist, known for his dramas and his novel Astronár, an allegory about the Irish struggle for freedom. In this novel, Ireland is an Eastern European country called Amora, subjugated by Kratonians, and everybody has a pseudo-Greek name (such as the hero Astronár).
  • Breton = the Celtic language spoken in Brittany
  • Brezhoneg = the name of Breton in Breton
  • Brittonic languages = Welsh, Breton, and Cornish
  • Celtiberian = an ancient language spoken in what is now Spain, known from inscriptions
  • Celtic = a branch of the Indo-European language family
  • Cornish = the Celtic language once spoken in Cornwall. There are several reconstructed forms of Cornish, such as Unified Cornish, Modern Cornish, Kernewek Kemmyn and Unified Cornish Revised, but now some sort of compromise Cornish has been created.
  • Cymraeg = the name of Welsh in Welsh
  • Cymraeg Byw = an artificial form of spoken Welsh standardized in the 1970s. Due to the great gap between literary Welsh and spoken dialects, this form of Welsh was developed as a substitute for the “received pronunciation” that had not developed in a natural way. It was supposed to become the normative spoken language of broadcasters, but instead, it was taught to non-natives, who then were left speaking a form of Welsh which was a departure from any real Welsh either spoken or written. This misuse led to the subsequent abandonment of Cymraeg Byw, which might have worked just fine if used as originally planned, as a broadcasting norm.
  • Davitt, Michael (1950-2005) = a modern Irish-language poet
  • Gaeilge = the name of Irish in Irish
  • Gaelic languages = the branch of Celtic containing Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx. Also called Goidelic languages
  • Gaeltacht = a village or area where a traditional dialect of Irish is spoken
  • Gàidhlig = the name of Scots Gaelic in Scots Gaelic
  • Galician = the Romance language spoken in the part of Spain north of Portugal, a very close relative (or historically speaking the parent language) of Portuguese. Not a Celtic language.
  • Gaulish = an ancient Celtic language spoken in what is now France, known from inscriptions
  • Gwalarn = a Breton school of writers and a literary journal in the Breton language, active in 1925-1944
  • Gwenedeg (Vannetais) – one of the four dialects of Breton, so different from the others that it needs a written language of its own
  • Hedd Wyn = the pen name of Ellis Humphrey Evans, a Welsh-language poet of the First World War, killed in action in 1917.
  • Indo-European languages = the most well-known and researched language family of the world, which includes Albanian, Armenian, Baltic languages (Latvian and Lithuanian), Slavic languages (Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Sorbian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Slovenian, Bulgarian and Macedonian), Celtic (Irish, Scots Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, Breton and the ancient Celtic languages), Germanic (English, Dutch, German and the Scandinavian languages as well as Gothic and other ancient Germanic languages), Greek (ancient and modern; Ancient Macedonian was probably related to Greek, definitely not the same language as modern Macedonian, which is close to Bulgarian), Indo-Iranian languages (Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Pashtu and many others), Italic languages (such as Latin, from which modern Romance languages descend), and several ancient, extinct languages such as Hittite and Tocharian. Most languages spoken in Europe are Indo-European; the major exceptions are Basque, which is not related to any other language; and Finnish, the Sami languages, Estonian, and Hungarian, which are all related to each other, being Finno-Ugric languages.
  • initial mutation = the way how the first sound in a word mutates into another sound in a word, as a grammatical change. Very typical of modern Celtic languages.
  • Insular Celtic = the Celtic languages spoken in the British Isles, or originating from there. All the modern Celtic languages (including Breton) are Insular Celtic
  • Irish = the Celtic language spoken in Ireland
  • Kerneveg (Cornouaillais) = one of the dialects of Breton
  • Kernewek or Kernowek = the name of Cornish in Cornish
  • Italic languages = an ancient subgroup of Indo-European languages that included Latin and such related languages as Faliscan, Umbrian, Oscan and many others. Latin ousted other Italic languages when Romans occupied and annexed the parts of Italy where they were spoken.
  • Italo-Celtic = According to one theory, a subgroup of Indo-European languages that included both Italic languages and Celtic languages (this suggests that they had a common ancestor language younger than Proto-Indo-European, i.e. Italo-Celtic). These days this theory is not very popular.
  • Leoneg (Léonard) = one of the dialects of Breton
  • Lepontic = an ancient Celtic language spoken in what is now Northern Italy, known from inscriptions
  • Lewis, Saunders (1893-1985) = a renowned poet and writer in Welsh
  • Mac Amhlaigh, Dónall (1926-1989) = a writer of Irish-language prose about the life of Irish workers in Britain, who also wrote in English. Thanks to his fluent journalistic style, he should be studied by any learner of the language.
  • Mac an Bheatha, Proinsias (1910-1990) = a productive, but not very original writer of Irish-language prose. He was a non-native, but wrote mostly quite decent Irish. His historical novels have some literary merit.
  • Mac Grianna, Seosamh (1900-1990) = a modernist writer from Donegal, whose interesting literary career was cut short by depression and psychosis
  • Manx = the Celtic language until recently spoken in the Isle of Man, closely related to Irish and Scots Gaelic
  • Ó Cadhain, Máirtín (1906-1970) = the most important writer of prose in the 20th century
  • ogham = a form of writing used in the oldest Irish inscriptions. These are very short ones and their usual content is something like “I was such a big boss in our tribe that my sons could afford to put up this stone in my memory”.
  • ogham Irish = the kind of Irish used in the ogham inscriptions
  • Ó Grianna, Séamus (1889-1969) = a productive writer of novels and short stories about the Irish-speaking Donegal, mostly read because of his beautiful Irish; elder brother of Seosamh Mac Grianna
  • Ó hÁirtnéide, Mícheál (1941-1999) = also known as Michael Hartnett, a modern Irish-language poet who also wrote in English
  • Old Irish = the kind of Irish written in the years 700-900.
  • Ó Riordáin, Seán (1916-1977) = a modern Irish-language poet
  • Pictish = the language spoken in Scotland before Old Irish (subsequently Scots Gaelic) made inroads. Pictish was probably related to Welsh (there are pre-Gaelic place-names in Scotland which include Celtic elements reminiscent of Welsh) but there is also the possibility that there were two Pictish languages, one of them Celtic and another unrelated.
  • Roberts, Kate (1891-1985) = a noted Welsh writer of prose
  • Romance languages = the languages that descend directly from Latin, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Romanian, Catalan, Galician etc.
  • Scots = the Germanic language spoken in Scotland and Ulster, either an English dialect or a separate language closely related to English. Not a Celtic language.
  • Scottish Gaelic = the Celtic language spoken in the Scottish Highlands and Islands
  • Tregerieg (Trégorrois) = one of the dialects of Breton
  • Welsh = the Celtic language spoken in Wales

 

 

 

What is Irish? Cad é an rud é an Ghaeilge? (Part Two – Cuid a Dó)

After the Old Irish, there was something called Middle Irish. The term is somewhat problematic, because in earlier times it used to mean something else: earlier, “Middle Irish” included the Irish from the twelfth century to the seventeenth century, which is now known as Classical Irish, or Early Modern Irish. According to our understanding, Middle Irish was the period of linguistic uncertainty between Old Irish and Early Modern Irish, with substandard spoken language forms and hypercorrections (i.e. uninformed attempts to write standard Old Irish leading to forms which were neither correct Old Irish nor correct spoken language) proliferating in the literary language. However, some old books which use the term “Middle Irish” to refer to Early Modern Irish are still being reprinted (notably Eleanor Knott’s Irish Syllabic Poetry).

 

I ndiaidh na SeanGhaeilge, bhí a leithéid ann agus an Mheán-Ghaeilge. Níl an téarma sin róshoiléir, nó d’athraigh a chiall i rith na mblianta: ar dtús ba nós “Meán-Ghaeilge” a thabhairt ar an nGaeilge ón dóú haois déag go dtí an tseachtú haois déag, an cineál Gaeilge ar a dtugtar “an Ghaeilge Chlasaiceach” nó “an Nua-Ghaeilge Mhoch” inniu. De réir is mar a thuigtear dúinn, is éard a bhí i gceist leis an Meán-Ghaeilge ná an tréimhse éiginnteachta i gcúrsaí teanga idir an tSean-Ghaeilge agus an Nua-Ghaeilge Mhoch, nuair a bhí an teanga scríofa breac le foirmeacha ón gcaint chomh maith le foirmeacha forchearta. Is éard atá i gceist leis an “bhforcheartú” ná go bhfuil an scríbhneoir ag iarraidh cloí leis an gcaighdeán Sean-Ghaeilge agus é chomh haineolach ar an gcaighdeán sin nach bhfuil a chuid “ceartúchán” ceart de réir an chaighdeáin ná de réir na cainte. Tabhair faoi deara, áfach, go bhfuil seanleabhair áirithe i bprionta i gcónaí a úsaideas an téarma sin Middle Irish le tagairt don rud a dtugaimid Nua-Ghaeilge Mhoch air inniu – ar nós Irish Syllabic Poetry le hEleanor Knott.  

Early Modern Irish begins in the 12th century and ends in the 16th century. Classical Irish is the form of Early Modern Irish cultivated by bardic poets – the Irish word for “poet” is file, in the old orthography fileadh, and the standard language used by poets was indeed called ceart na bhfileadh, i.e. “the correctness of the poets”, “what the poets find correct”. The poets’ Irish was quite far removed from the everyday speech of the common people, being above all a cultivated written language and developing independently of spoken dialects. However, it was not an archaic language – it did, for example, readily accept loanwords from English.

 

Thosaigh tréimhse na Nua-Ghaeilge Moiche sa dóú haois déag agus tháinig deireadh léi sa tseachtú haois déag. An cineál Nua-Ghaeilge Mhoch a bhí á cleachtadh ag na filí cuairte tugtar Gaeilge Chlasaiceach air. Is gnách “ceart na bhfileadh”, is é sin caighdeán na bhfilí, a thabhairt ar an stíl seo chomh maith. Bhí Gaeilge na bhfilí sách difriúil le gnáthchaint na cosmhuintire, ós rud é gur teanga scríofa shaothraithe a bhí inti, agus í ag forbairt beag beann ar na canúintí labhartha. San am chéanna ní teanga bhréagársa a bhí inti. Mar shampla, d’fháiltíodh sí focail iasachta ón mBéarla.

 

There were other styles in Early Modern Irish – the canamhain (this is the same word as canúint, which in today’s Irish means “dialect”), which was less rigorously literary and more conversational than the poets’ standard, and the historians’ annalistic style, which was artificially old-fashioned, but presumably felt to be historically correct by those who wrote it. It seems that it was usually laughed at and parodied by others.

Bhí stíleanna eile sa Nua-Ghaeilge Mhoch – an chanamhain (is ionann mar fhocal é agus “canúint”), nár chloígh chomh dian sin le ceart na bhfileadh, nó bhí sí ní ba chosúla le caint na ndaoine. Ón taobh eile de bhí a stíl féin ag lucht scríofa na n-annál staire, agus iad ag iarraidh seanaimsearthacht agus ársaíocht mhínádúrtha a chleachtadh, toisc gur shíl siad go gcaithfidís a ceart a thabhairt don stair. Dealraíonn sé gur ábhar gáire agus scigaithrise ab ea Gaeilge na staraithe do na daoine eile.

 

Towards the end of the Early Modern Irish period, the historian Geoffrey Keating (Seathrún Céitinn) wrote Foras Feasa ar Éirinn (usually called “Keating’s History of Ireland” in English, although the title means “Foundation of Knowledge on Ireland”), a compendium of Irish history and mythology. Keating departed from the usual style of Irish-language history-writing, using instead a kind of classical Irish that is relatively intelligible even to those only familiar with today’s Irish. This is why Keating’s Irish was enormously influential among the first Irish revivalists in the eighteen nineties.

Nuair a bhí ré na Nua-Ghaeilge Moiche ag druidim chun deireanais, scríobh an staraí Seathrún Céitinn “Foras Feasa ar Éirinn”, ar díolaim abhair é ina gceanglaítear stair agus miotaseolaíocht na hÉireann dá chéile. Níor chloígh Céitinn le gnáthstíl na staraithe Gaeilge ach le stíl Chlasaiceach agus í réasúnta intuigthe acu siúd féin nach bhfuil ach Gaeilge an lae inniu acu. Sin é an fáth go ndeachaigh Gaeilge Chéitinn go mór mór i bhfeidhm ar cheannródaithe athbheochana na Gaeilge sna 1890idí.

 

The time from the demise of the classical language in the 17th century to the revival of modern contemporary Irish in the 20th century is a dark period in the history of the language. However, literature was being written even in those centuries. Among the most well-known works is, of course, Brian Merriman’s epic poem Cúirt an Mheon-Oíche, “The Midnight Court”, which is probably most well-known because of the fact that its English translation was censored in the Irish Free State, while the far more ribald original text was widely available in bookshops.

An tréimhse ó dheireadh na ré Clasaicí sa 17ú haois go hathbheochan na teanga san fhichiú haois is gnách dearcadh uirthi mar bhlianta dorcha i stair na Gaeilge. Mar sin féin bhí litríocht á saothrú sna blianta sin féin. Is é an dán eipiceach Cúirt an Mheon Oíche an saothar is cáiliúla ón tréimhse, ar ndóigh, ach is é an fáth leis sin ná go ndearnadh cinsireacht ar an aistriúchán Béarla sa Saorstát, cé go raibh teacht ar an mbunleagan Gaeilge, agus é i bhfad níos graosta ná an leagan Béarla, go forleathan sna siopaí leabhar.

Glúin na Buaidhe and the German connection – Glúin na Buaidhe agus an Nasc Gearmánach

The text I wrote about stupid prejudices was commented (in my old blog) by Eoin Ó Cróinín, who pointed out that while Irish obviously isn’t a fascist language, there have been Irish speakers with fascist or Nazi connections, notably the organization called Ailtirí na hAiséirí, “The Architects of Resurrection”. (Note that while éirí is masculine – an t-éirí, genitive an éirí, the compound word aiséirí usually is exceptionally feminine, an aiséirí, na haiséirí.) This is an important point and needs to be addressed.

An bhlagmhír a scríobh mé faoi na réamhbhreithiúnaisí amaideacha a bhíos ag na daoine i dtaobh na Gaeilge, fuair sí freagra ó Eoin Ó Cróinín a dúirt, cé nach teanga Fhaisisteach í an Ghaeilge, gur léir go raibh cainteoirí Gaeilge ann agus baint éigin acu leis an bhFaisisteachas nó leis na Naitsithe, go háirithe an eagraíocht úd Ailtirí na hAiséirí. Pointe tábhachtach é agus is fiú tuilleadh a rá ina thaobh.

It stands to reason that reactionary or fascistoid people were active in the Irish language movement in the years of the Free State. One such person was actually Seán Sabhat a.k.a. Seán South, who became an IRA martyr when he was killed in the Brookeborough raid during the Border Campaign, but it is typical of the political eclecticism of the Irish nationalist movement that the raid was led by Seán Garland, later a leader of the Marxist faction of Sinn Féin.

 

Luíonn sé le réasún go raibh daoine frithghníomhacha nó Faisisteacha gníomhach i ngluaiseacht na Gaeilge i mblianta an tSaorstáit. Duine acu siúd ab ea Seán Sabhat, a d’iompaigh ina mhairtíreach de chuid an IRA nuair a maraíodh é sa ruathar ar Achadh Lon le linn Fheachtas na Teorainne. Chomh héicléicteach is atá gluaiseacht náisiúnaíoch na hÉireann áfach, ba é Seán Garland a bhí ina cheann feadhna ar na hÓglaigh a rinne an ruathar – agus é i gceannas ar fhaicsean Marxach Shinn Féin ina dhiaidh sin.

 
Seán Sabhat was active in Conradh na Gaeilge and had practical and sensible ideas about promoting Irish, but at the same time he was a member of Maria Duce, a very conservative Catholic organization led by Father Denis Fahey, a priest who had experienced the turmoil of the Dreyfus affair while staying in France and been influenced by local anti-Semitic theologians (he was a young student back then, and susceptible to influences). I would refrain from calling Father Fahey a Fascist; he is most reminiscent of those clerical or religious reactionaries of the time which were found in many Catholic countries. Some of them did become Hitler’s allies, with Slovakia’s leader Jozef Tiso as a well-known example.

Bhí Seán Sabhat gníomhach i gConradh na Gaeilge agus smaointí praiticiúla ciallmhara aige faoi chur chun cinn na teanga. San am chéanna bhí sé ina bhall de Mharia Duce, eagraíocht an-choimeádach Chaitliceach arbh é an tAthair Donncha Ó Fathaigh a cathaoirleach. Sagart ab ea an tAthair Ó Fathaigh a bhí ina chónaí san Fhrainc díreach nuair a bhí scannal Dreyfus faoi lán an tseoil, agus é faoi thionchar diagairí Francacha frith-Ghiúdacha ansin (bhí sé ina mhac léinn óg san am, agus ní raibh sé díonta ar thionchar den chineál sin). Ba leasc liom Faisisteach a thabhairt ar an Athair Ó Fathaigh; is éard is mó a chuireas sé i gcuimhne dom ná an cineál frithghníomhaithe reiligiúnacha nó cléireacha a bhí thuas sa chuid is mó de na tíortha Caitliceacha san am. Cuid acu ar ndóigh chuaigh siad le Hitler – Jozef Tiso sa tSlóvaic mar shampla.
And of course, speaking of clerical reactionaries, Francisco Franco in Spain became the dictator of Spain in his own right. He also attracted the sympathies of many Irish people, and while there were Irishmen fighting for the Republic, there also was a sizable Irish force which sided with Franco – the Blueshirts, led by Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh, who became the Irish Brigade in Franco’s army. The Blueshirts were originally pro-Treaty soldiers who had fought the anti-Treaty IRA in the Irish Civil War.

Agus ar ndóigh, más ag trácht ar fhrithghníomhaithe cléireacha atáimid, ní féidir linn gan tagairt éigin a dhéanamh do Francisco Franco, a bhain amach deachtóireacht na Spáinne, é féin. Bhí cuid mhór de mhuintir na hÉireann báúil le Franco, agus siúd is go raibh cuid mhaith Éireannach ag troid ar son Phoblacht na Spáinne, thaobhaigh fórsa mór Éireannach le Franco – na Léinte Gorma, faoi cheannas Eoin Uí Dhubhthaigh, a d’iompaigh ina mBriogáid Éireannach in arm Franco. Ar dtús, is éard a bhí sna Léinte Gorma ná saighdiúirí in Arm an tSaorstáit agus iad ag cur troda ar na hÓglaigh frith-Chonartha i gCogadh na gCarad.

 
It is worth noting that while Seán Sabhat sided with the Republican tradition and joined the IRA, Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh and his Blueshirts were Free Staters. In Irish politics, the Republican vs Free State divide was so important that the more universal left wing vs right wing divide gave way to it.

Is fiú a thabhairt faoi deara ná, má chuaigh Seán Sabhat leis an bPoblachtánachas agus leis an IRA, gur Saorstátairí a bhí in Eoin Ó Dubhthaigh agus ina chuid Léinte Gorma. Chomh tábhachtach is a bhí an scoilt idir na Poblachtánaigh agus na Saorstátairí ba mhinic a sháraigh sí an scoilt idir an eite chlé agus an eite dheis.

 

 

As regards Ailtirí na hAiséirí and Glúin na Buaidhe, they were both organizations led by Gearóid Ó Cuinneagáin. He was active, among other things, in the legendary Irish-language newspaper An tÉireannach in the thirties; it is often spoken of as a Socialist paper, but actually it was another example of the peculiarly Irish radicalism which can be right-wing and left-wing at the same time. In 1940, he started a branch of Conradh na Gaeilge known as the Resurrection Branch, Craobh na hAiséirí.

Maidir le hAiltirí na hAiséirí agus le Glúin na Buaidhe, ba eagraíochtaí iad a bhunaigh Gearóid Ó Cuinneagáin. Bhí an Cuinneagánach ina ghníomhaí ghnóthach i ngluaiseacht na Gaeilge: sna tríochaidí scríobhadh sé don pháipéar mhórchlúiteach úd An tÉireannach: is minic a thugtar “nuachtán Sóisialach” air, ach le fírinne is sampla é den radacachas shain-Éireannach ina n-aontaítear an eite dheis agus an eite chlé. Sa bhliain 1940 chuir an Cuinneagánach tús le craobh nua de Chonradh na Gaeilge, mar atá, Craobh na hAiséirí.

 

 

Craobh na hAiséirí became known as the most active and most enthusiastic branch of the organization. Among the people it attracted were Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, later a renowned Irish-language journalist and a prolific but mostly less than readable writer (he did author one tolerably good historical novel though, Cnoc na hUamha), and Annraoi Ó Liatháin, who turned out to be a talented writer of adventure novels in the language.

Is é an teist a bhí ar Chraobh na hAiséirí san am ná go raibh sí ar an gcraobh ba ghníomhaí, ba dhíograisí de Chonradh na Gaeilge. Chuaigh daoine cosúil le Proinsias Mac an Bheatha agus Annraoi Ó Liatháin sa Chraobh – ina dhiaidh sin bhí Proinsias ina iriseoir aithnidiúil Gaeilge agus ina scríbhneoir lagmheasartha leabhar, cé gur éirigh leis úrscéal stairiúil amháin a chumadh – Cnoc na hUamha – a bhí réasúnta maith. Maidir leis an Liathánach, chruthaigh seisean thar barr ag scríobh úrscéalta eachtránaíochta sa teanga.

 

 

Craobh na hAiséirí left the Conradh to become Glúin na Buaidhe, The Generation of Victory (as Ó Cuinneagáin was from Belfast, it is no wonder that the name of the organization was in Ulster Irish; in the present standard language it would be Glúin an Bhua). About the same time Ó Cuinneagáin started his own political party, Ailtirí na hAiséirí. His political philosophy was undeniably influenced by Fascism and Franco-style authoritarian clericalism, and he was able to spread a contagious enthusiasm for the Irish language among young people, but does this prove that there is something inherently Fascist about the language?

D’fhág Craobh na hAiséirí an Conradh, agus is é an t-ainm a bhaist siad orthu féin ansin ná Glúin na Buaidhe (Glúin an Bhua a bheadh ann de réir an Chaighdeáin, ach ó ba as Béal Feirste don Chuinneagánach, b’fhearr leis leagan Ultach a úsáid). Faoin am chéanna bhunaigh an Cuinneagánach a pháirtí polaitiúil féin, mar atá, Ailtirí na hAiséirí. Ba léir go ndeachaigh an Faisisteachas agus an cineál cléireachas údarásaíoch a shamhlófá le Franco – go ndeachaigh an dá rud seo i bhfeidhm ar a fhealsúnacht pholaitiúil, agus ba léir freisin go raibh sé in ann díograis i leith na Gaeilge a mhúscailt i measc aos óg a linne, ach an ionann sin is a rá go bhfuil an Faisisteachas i ndúchas na teanga?

 

 

Rather the other way round. Ó Cuinneagáin understood that he could not spread his ideology among the masses by using Irish alone, and he found it necessary to use more English than Irish in his propaganda rag Aiséirí (“Resurrection”). This led to protestations that there was too little Irish in the paper, and if there was, it was at least partly due to there being too few writers with good Irish happy to see their articles appear in the paper.

A mhalairt ar fad, a déarfainn. Thuig an Cuinneagánach nach bhféadfadh sé a idé-eolaíocht a chraobhscaoileadh agus é i dtuilleamaí na Gaeilge amháin, agus ba riachtanach leis an tús áite a thabhairt don Bhéarla san iris úd Aiséirí a bhí mar ghléas bolscaireachta aige. Ansin áfach bhí go leor Gaeilgeoirí míshásta leis an easpa Gaeilge ar an bpáipéar, agus má bhí a leithéid d’easpa ann, ceann de na cúiseanna ab ea é nach raibh mórán Gaeilgeoirí maithe fonnmhar a gcuid altanna a chur i gcló ag an gCuinneagánach.

 

 

Ó Cuinneagáin did write approvingly about Nazi Germany, but his main emphasis was on the Catholic authoritarianism. Those who caught the contagion of Irish language enthusiasm from him either returned to the fold of Conradh na Gaeilge – such as Annraoi Ó Liatháin – or focused on practical aspects of language work – such as Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, who was for years the editor of the newspaper Inniu.

Is fíor go moladh an Cuinneagánach an Ghearmáin Naitsíoch ina chuid scríbhinní ó am go ham, ach is ar an údarásaíocht Chaitliceach a chuireadh sé an bhéim ba mhó. Iad siúd a tholg an díograis teanga uaidh, d’fhill siad ar Chonradh na Gaeilge sa deireadh – cosúil leis an Liathánach – nó dhírigh siad ar ghnéithe praiticiúla na hoibre teanga, ar nós Proinsias Mac an Bheatha, a chaith na blianta fada ina eagarthóir ar an nuachtán úd Inniu.

 

 

Actually, while Seán Sabhat was probably influenced by Ó Cuinneagáin’s writings while very young, the most important attempt made by Nazis to contact and recruit Irish-speaking nationalists was the rescue of Frank Ryan (Proinsias Ó Riain). Ryan was actually a left-wing Republican fighting in Spain who had been captured by Franco’s forces and was languishing in a prison in Burgos waiting for execution. The German intelligence service, the Abwehr, got interested in him as a possible asset and got him released and handed over. (Here it might be worth pointing out that the Abwehr itself was a military organization rather than a Nazi ideological one: its leader Wilhelm Canaris was actually imprisoned and executed shortly before the end of the war because of his relations with the military opposition that had attempted to kill Hitler.)

Le fírinne, cé gur dóigh go ndeachaigh scríbhinní an Chuinneagánaigh i bhfeidhm ar Sheán Sabhat nuair a bhí sé an-óg, ba é tarrtháil Phroinsiais Uí Riain an iarracht ba mhó a rinne na Naitsithe le dul i dteagmháil le náisiúntóirí Éireannacha le Gaeilge agus lena leas a bhaint astu. Poblachtánach ón eite chlé a bhí sa Rianach a ghlac páirt i gcogadh cathartha na Spáinne, agus é cimithe ag fórsaí Franco. Bhí sé i bpríosún i mBurgos (príomhchathair shealadach Franco i dtuaisceart na Spáinne) i nganfhios don tsaol agus an chuma ar an scéal go raibh sé le cur chun báis, ach ansin chuir an Abwehr, seirbhís faisnéise na Gearmáine, suim ann agus iad ag déanamh go bhféadfaí é a úsáid ar dhóigh éigin. Mar sin bhí na Spáinnigh sásta é a scaoileadh as an bpríosún agus a sheachadadh chuig na Gearmánaigh. (Is fiú a phointeáil amach anseo, is féidir, gur eagraíocht mhíleata a bhí san Abwehr, is é sin, nach eagraíocht idé-eolaíoch de chuid Pháirtí na Naitsithe a bhí inti. Go gearr roimh dheireadh an chogaidh caitheadh Wilhelm Canaris, ceannasaí an Abwehr, i dtóin an phríosúin é féin, agus cuireadh chun báis é, toisc go raibh baint aige leis an gcomhcheilg mhíleata a rinne iarracht Hitler a dhúnmharú.)

 

 

Frank Ryan was supposed to be brought back to Ireland together with Seán Russell, an Irish Republican de facto turned into a German agent, probably in order to start a pro-German Republican rising against Ireland’s government. The operation was masterminded by Edmund Veesenmayer, the SS specialist for this kind of subversion, but it folded partly because of bad preparations (Ryan was neither trained nor given instructions for the mission), partly because of Russell’s sudden illness and death on board the submarine that was taking them to Ireland. Ryan was brought back to Germany and died in Dresden in 1944. There is no reason to suspect foul play behind his demise, as he had been a very sick man for some time. He had lost most of his hearing while still in Ireland, having been badly mistreated by Free State jailers, and his spell in the Spanish prison wasn’t exactly wholesome either.

Bhí Proinsias Ó Riain le tabhairt ar ais go hÉirinn in éineacht le Seán Ó Ruiséil, Poblachtánach Éireannach a bhí iompaithe ina ghníomhaí Ghearmánach de facto. Is dócha go raibh siad le ceannairc Phoblachtánach a thosú a rachadh chun leasa don Ghearmáin. Ba é Edmund Veesenmayer a bhí i gceannas ar an oibríocht seo, agus é ina speisialtóir ag an SS le haghaidh treascairt pholaitiúil den chineál seo, ach sa deireadh thit an tóin as an oibríocht. Ní raibh sí ullmhaithe go rómhaith, nó ní bhfuair an Rianach oiliúint ná treoracha le haghaidh an mhisin, agus mar bharr ar an donas, nuair a bhí an bheirt fhear ar bord fomhuireáin ag dul go hÉirinn buaileadh an Ruiséalach breoite go tobann, agus bhí sé básaithe sular bhain an fomhuireán amach ceann a scríbe. Tugadh an Rianach ar ais go dtí an Ghearmáin, agus fuair seisean bás in Dresden sa bhliain 1944 ar chúiseanna sách nádúrtha, nó bhí sé ag éileamh go dona le giota maith ama anuas. Chaill sé éisteacht a chluas, an chuid ba mhó di, sular imigh sé ó Éirinn, nó thug séiléirí an tSaorstáit drochíde dó, agus ní dheachaigh a sheal sa phríosún Spáinneach chun follántais dó ach an oiread.

 

 

Of course, it is necessary to mention Francis Stuart here, too. Stuart was an iconoclastic modernist writer who was friendly with Ezra Pound; I guess both gentlemen were the kind of cultural elitists who felt attracted to Nazis because they felt their kind would fare better as courtly poets of a supposedly enlightened totalitarianism than in a vulgar democracy. Stuart had had some involvement with the Republican side of the Irish Civil War, but I don’t know whether he had any idea of the Irish language. Anyway, he was approached by Helmut Clissmann and Eduard Hempel, German representatives in Ireland, and invited to Germany to give a series of academic lectures. This he did. Later he used to broadcast English-language radio propaganda aimed at Irish listeners.

Ar ndóigh tá sé riachtanach cúpla focal a rá i dtaobh Francis Stuart anseo chomh maith. Scríbhneoir íolbhristeach nua-aimseartha a bhí ann agus é mór le hEzra Pound. Lucht scothaicmeachais iad an bheirt fhear seo, is dóigh liom, agus luiteamas acu leis an Naitsíochas toisc gur shíl siad go mbeadh a leithéidí féin ní b’fhearr as i gcóras ollsmachtúil soilsithe (shíl siad go raibh soilsiú nó eagnaíocht éigin ag roinnt leis an Naitsíochas) ná i ndaonlathas madrúil. Bhí baint éigin ag Stuart leis na Poblachtánaigh i gCogadh na gCarad, ach níl a fhios agam an raibh focal Gaeilge sa phluc aige. Pé scéal é d’iarr Helmut Clissmann agus Eduard Hempel, arbh ionadaithe oifigiúla don Ghearmáin iad, – d’iarr siad ar Stuart sraith léachtanna acadúla a thabhairt sa Ghearmáin. Rinne sé rud orthu. Ina dhiaidh sin chaith sé seal ina chraoltóir Béarla ar raidió bolscaireachta na Gearmáine agus é ag díriú ar éisteoirí Éireannacha.

 

 

There was another Irish broadcaster there though, a certain Róisín Ní Mheara, who seems to have been a more ideologically convinced supporter of the Nazi regime than Stuart, and who also was a speaker of the Irish language. Back in the nineties, she published a pro-Nazi memoir in the language which inspired some heated discussion, but seems to have been forgotten since. Whether she was a Nazi in the strict sense of the world, I don’t know, but she seems to have been an unrepentant anti-Semite and an old-fashioned Catholic conservative appalled at the depravity of the modern world. In this way, she was the complete opposite of such modernist Fascists as Ezra Pound. She was more akin to Tiso and Franco.

Bhí craoltóir Éireannach eile ag obair anseo – Róisín Ní Mheara ab ainm di. Dealraíonn sé go raibh sí fíor-bháúil le hidé-eolaíocht na Naitsithe – ní ba bháúla ná Stuart; thairis sin bhí Gaeilge aici. Sna nóchaidí d’fhoilsigh sí a cuimhní cinn, leabhar a thug le fios go raibh luí aici leis na Naitsithe i gcónaí. Tharraing an leabhar callán éigin sna meáin Ghaeilge, ach is dócha gur ligeadh i ndearmad í ina dhiaidh sin. Níl a fhios agam an féidir a rá go raibh sí ina Naitsí i gciall cheart an fhocail, ach is cosúil go raibh sí ina frith-Ghiúdach neamhleithscéalach agus go raibh déistin uirthi roimh dhrúis an domhain nua-aimseartha, toisc gur le coimeádachas Caitliceach a tógadh í. Mar sin bhí a saoldearcadh bun os cionn le nua-aimsearthacht Fhaisisteachas leithéidí Ezra Pound, ní ba chosúla le smaointeachas Tiso nó Franco.

What is Irish? Cad é an rud é an Ghaeilge?

I guess there are people out there who are sincerely ignorant of the fact that Ireland hasn’t always been a largely English-speaking nation and who are puzzled to find out that there is an Irish language which isn’t the same as the dialect of English spoken in, and associated with, Ireland. Thus, here is a comprehensive posting about Irish today.

Is dóigh liom go bhfuil daoine amuigh ansin nach bhfuil a fhios beo acu nach raibh an Béarla chomh líofa ag bunadh na hÉireann ó thús agus atá inniu, agus iontas orthu a fháil amach go bhfuil teanga Éireannach ann nach ionann í agus an cineál Béarla a labhraítear in Éirinn agus a shamhlaítear le hÉirinn. Mar sin, seo blagmhír chuimsitheach faoin nGaeilge inniu.

Irish is a Celtic language. Celtic languages are one of the branches of the Indo-European language family, which includes Germanic languages (such as English and German, for instance), Romance languages (those which have developed from Latin, such as Italian, Spanish and French), Italic languages (an earlier grouping of now-extinct languages, such as Latin and several other ancient languages spoken in what is now Italy), Indo-Iranian languages (such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Persian) and many others. Thus, Irish is demonstrably related to both English and Latin, although this relationship is not obvious, except to a specialist.

Teanga Cheilteach í an Ghaeilge. Is éard atá sna teangacha Ceilteacha ná craobh de chuid na dteangacha Ind-Eorpacha, ar a n-áirítear na teangacha Gearmáinice (an Béarla agus an Ghearmáinis mar shampla), na teangacha Rómánsacha (a d’eascair ón Laidin, cosúil leis an Iodáilis, an Spáinnis, agus an Fhraincis), na teangacha Iodáilice (teangacha marbha cosúil leis an Laidin agus roinnt seanteangacha eile a labhraítí san áit a bhfuil an Iodáil inniu), na teangacha Ind-Iaránacha (an Hiondúis, an Urdais, an Bheangáilis agus an Pheirsis, mar shampla) agus a lán eile. Mar sin, tá gaol ag an nGaeilge leis an mBéarla agus an Laidin araon, cé nach bhfuil an gaol seo soiléir a thuilleadh, ach amháin don tsaineolaí.

Irish is one of the oldest written languages of Western Europe. It was committed to writing about the year 700 CE, although even before that, a form of Irish was used for inscriptions. The inscriptions were made with an alphabet known in modern Irish as oghamchraobh, and the obelisks on which you can see such inscriptions are called oghamchlocha, Ogham stones.

Tá an Ghaeilge ar cheann de na teangacha scríofa is sine in Iarthar na hEorpa. Thosaigh traidisiún liteartha na Gaeilge timpeall ar an mbliain 700 AD, agus roimhe sin féin bhí cineál Gaeilge in úsáid in inscríbhinní. Iad siúd a rinne na hinscríbhinní seo bhí siad i dtuilleamaí aibítir ar leith ar a dtugaimid an Oghamchraobh i nGaeilge an lae inniu. D’fheicfeá inscríbhinní den tsaghas seo ar oibiliscí ar a dtugtar Oghamchlocha.

The literary language that came about in 700 CE is called Old Irish. This was already a Christianized language which borrowed words and concepts from Latin and Greek, the classical tongues of the Western civilization. Old Irish writers were basically monks, but they weren’t bent on destroying all pre-Christian culture. So they wrote down the old mythologies of Ireland, both the Ulster cycle and the Fenian cycle, although they did omit most references to pre-Christian religion.

An teanga scríofa a tháinig ar an bhfód timpeall ar 700 AD is gnách Sean-Ghaeilge a thabhairt uirthi. Teanga Chríostaithe a bhí ann cheana féin agus í ag tarraingt ar an Laidin agus ar an nGréigis, teangacha clasaiceacha na sibhialtachta Iartharaí, le haghaidh téarmaí agus coincheapanna nua. Iad siúd a scríobhadh litríocht i Sean-Ghaeilge, manaigh a bhí iontu go bunúsach, ach san am chéanna ní raibh siad meáite ar an gcultúr réamh-Chríostaí go léir a chur de dhroim an tsaoil. Mar sin bhreac siad síos seanmhiotais na hÉireann, an Rúraíocht agus an Fhiannaíocht araon, cé gur bhain siad an chuid is mó de na tagairtí don chreideamh réamh-Chríostaí de na scéalta.

The Irish name for Irish is Gaeilge, and many might ask if there is a difference between “Irish” and “Gaelic” as concepts in English (or in other languages). There indeed is. The “Gaelic languages” are a whole branch of modern Celtic languages. They include Irish, Scots Gaelic, and Manx. Speaking about one Gaelic language is thus akin to speaking about one Scandinavian language. Old Irish, though, could as well be called Old Gaelic in English, because Scots Gaelic and Manx are offshoots of it, together with Modern Irish.

Ós rud é gur “Gaeilge” atá ar an teanga, is dual don Bhéarlóir a fhiafraí, cad é an difríocht (má tá a leithéid ann) idir “Irish” agus “Gaelic” mar choincheapanna sa Bhéarla (nó i dteangacha eile, fiú). Tá difríocht ann ar ndóigh. Craobh iomlan i gcrann ginealais na dteangacha Ceilteacha iad na teangacha Gaelacha. Is iad siúd ná Gaeilge na hÉireann, Gaeilge na hAlban agus an Mhanainnis (Gaeilge Oileán Mhanann). An té a thráchtas ar an “Gaelic” mar aon teanga amháin bheadh sé chomh maith aige a bheith ag tagairt don “Lochlainnis” mar aon teanga amháin. An tSeanGhaeilge áfach, is gnách “Old Irish” a thabhairt uirthi as Béarla, ach san am chéanna ní bheadh sé mícheart an téarma “Old Gaelic” a úsáid, más mian leat béim a chur air gurb aisti a d’eachair an triúr acu, Gaeilge na hÉireann, Gaeilge na hAlban, agus Gaeilge Mhanann araon.

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